Localization Discussion

Official forum of this turn-based RPG for the PS3
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Seventh
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Localization Discussion

Postby Seventh » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:14 am

This is a thread to discuss your thoughts on NISA's localization of the game. While that sounds pretty straightforward, let's be clear on some things. Don't mindlessly trash the company for whatever you think they did wrong - keep in mind we wouldn't be getting it at all if not for NISA, and be grateful for that at least. On the other hand, if you feel something is worthy of criticism, so long as you are civil about addressing it, this is the place. Also, leave discussion of dub length for other topics - that general subject has been discussed to death in various other boards, this thread is to (civilly) discuss the specifics of this game's localization.

To that end, let's all be respectful of the opinions of others. While issues of translation will always be somewhat more subjective, please understand that what you may not be bothered by might bother someone else a lot - on the other hand, things that bother you might not seem like a big deal to anyone else. As games are experiences meant to be enjoyed and things like this, no matter how small or large, can hinder that experience for some, I think we should just open this by accepting everyone has a valid opinion here and this is largely going to be a conversation about preferences, I imagine. In other words, don't start trashing or dismissing others based on their praise/criticism.

Lastly, though I should think this goes without saying, nothing we say is going to matter here. The game is coming out and there's nothing a bunch of guys and girls on the internet can do to influence it.

So, without further ado, let's get started! The first topic of discussion: Effole > Ethel.

To start off, here are NISA's thoughts on the matter:

The_Dood_Abides wrote:So the reasoning behind changing Effole to Ethel is as follows:

Spoiler:
In Japanese, Effole has one pronunciation: Eff-oh-ruu. Pretty straightforward. But this name does not exist in English, so when you apply the conventions of spoken English to that name exactly as it's spelled, there are many different ways this name can be pronounced depending on which syllable is stressed (EFF-ole vs. eff-OLE) and the acoustics of the vowels in the name (AY-fole, EEE-fole, eff-OOL, etc.).

Now I believe the most natural sounding version of the name is EFF-ole, and if this game had no voice acting at all, I would've left the name as it's spelled and let the player's imagination determine how the name should be pronounced. Case in point, Sabin in FF3 (FF6 in Japan) can be pronounced SAY-bin, Sa-BEENE, SAHB-in and these pronunciations are all technically correct because there's no standardized pronunciation that the characters are expected to adhere to in-game, so the player gets to dictate for themselves how they think this name is pronounced.

(I know that Sabin's name in FF3 is actually the result of a localization change, and that in FF6 he's actually called Mash, but work with me here.)

But because this name doesn't exist in English, and this game has voice acting, and multiple characters say her name throughout various scenes, it quickly became apparent that the most natural sounding version of this name (EFF-ole) still felt and sounded unnatural when spoken aloud in English. In fact, it pretty much sounded like the name Ethel if it were spoken with a harsh lisp, which I felt distracted from the scenes in which her name is openly mentioned. So for ease and consistency of pronunciation across the various voice actors who were required to say this name, I made the call to split the difference and just have her be called Ethel outright. It's phonetically similar to her original name, it's a common enough name among English-speakers that the pronunciation is more or less universal, and it doesn't have the distracting lispy tic that I mentioned earlier.

To be honest, I kind of expected that this change would be met with a mixed reaction. This sort of snag when it comes to localizing names is fairly common, and when it happens, it's my job to work with my translator partner and make a decision that I feel is in the best interest of the finalized product. You don't have to agree with my reasoning or like the decision I've made, but I hope that my explanation provides a greater understanding and insight into how decisions like this are made, and that they're not made lightly but rather after serious thought has been put into it. Rest assured, just because her name is Ethel rather than Effole does not mean that the qualities that are actually fundamental to her characterization have been changed. She's still the menacing, soft-spoken, adorable assassin in our localization that she was in the original Japanese. She just goes by Ethel now.

I really don't want to this thread to degenerate into complaints about the name change, so let's stay on topic from this point forward. If you still want to discuss this matter with me, you're more than welcome to PM me with questions that my explanation perhaps did not address.


So, there you have it! Now, keeping the "rules" in mind, let's get to it guys!
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Houk » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:35 am

Also keep in mind that the game hasn't been released yet, so it might be good to temper whatever emotion or response you have until you've actually seen it play out in-game.

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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Seventh » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:38 am

That too!

Speculation is well and good, but keep it related to what we actually know. For instance, a name change doesn't say anything to how that character'd personality will or won't be carried over.

Or just only talk about stuff we know period, that works too.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby PringlesXD » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:17 am

Here's my take on this: I don't mind, as I normally don't mind name changes.
Plus, Effole sounds weird when I say it out loud.

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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Seventh » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:09 pm

Well, now that we're talking, I'll give my own thoughts.

I've been saying "Effole" off and on different ways all afternoon and it really doesn't sound that much like Ethel, no matter how I say it. I mean, they're similar enough, but not any more or less than any other names with similar letters and length. It doesn't sound that particularly strange either, so in regards to both of those points, I'm drawing a blank.

Regarding the general logic being used here, putting aside the ethics of accuracy and all that, I just don't really follow it. Unless we're pretending the game takes place in America/English speaking Europe for some reason, rather than a fictional world a Japanese person came up with, why should names be changed to fit like that? You don't see (good) anime localizations changing the names of characters because they look or sound strange to an English speaking/reading audience. And what about movies set in foreign countries? While the language being spoken is usually the language of that of the people making the movie, they're not usually naming the foreign characters John and Mark and so on to make it "easier" for the actors and viewers, because that wouldn't make sense - shouldn't the same apply here?

This idea that if a name or word isn't in English as it is spoken = it needs to be replaced kind of baffles me. I don't think anyone is under any illusions that the games we're buying aren't from Japan or that they don't take place in settings that are probably different from our own setting, so why are they being localized like they are? They certainly weren't created that way for the Japanese audience.

To bring up an example of names in games, let's look at Persona 4. One of the characters is named Rise. Not only is that not a name in English, written, it's actually a word with an entirely different pronunciation. Rather than give her a new name, Atlus left it as is and the characters pronounced it the way it sounds - as they did with most of the names in the game. And those were legitimate foreign names. And you know what? It worked. It worked really well.

Here though, this name has a Western style way of writing it and even pronouncing it all ready to go, it doesn't sound like a boy's name like the last name change, and it is clearly a perfectly appropriate name for the setting the game takes place in, so then, what was really so wrong? Why is it, in the same world where a name like "Rise" can stay the same, companies think people can't handle anything "foreign" or "different"? I don't mean to be offensive here, I just genuinely don't follow the logic.

To address another point - if the team was aware choosing this particular name would have mixed feedback, shouldn't that have said something? After accepting the premise the name had to be changed, surely someone pointed out the rather obvious issues with this particular name - issues I think distract a lot more than a name that isn't a perfect match for English. I mean, couldn't... another name have worked too? If you have to make a change, the issue of accuracy is gone already, so wouldn't it make more sense to go for a name people would like rather than one people are probably not going to be able to take seriously?

That's my take on it anyway.

That all said, ultimately, as long as personalities and dialogue come across properly, I can live with odd decisions like this.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Daverost » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:32 pm

I made that topic after a weeks-long discussion on another forum (as well as several other discussions on several other forums over the course of many years, including this one) continued to bring up disapproval at NISA's name changes.

I continue to state the same opinion here.

Now if NISA wants to act childish and lock the feedback thread where others had an opportunity to have their say before they did (you locked it within three hours because we hurt your feelings), that's their business. And it reflects poorly on them.

I'm sorry if you're offended by the word "arbitrarily", but that's how it comes off. There's very little rhyme or reason for the changes you make and they're never properly explained to us. Questions about it are almost always dodged. You can't expect us not to be upset.

My original post was much more scathing. I mentioned a few things like how FFF's cast has had their names reduced the most generic list of names I've seen in an RPG that wasn't something some guy in the west made in RPG Maker with half the cast having names like John and Suzie. You've taken an original list of names like Harler, Effole, Alyn, and Rolo and made them boring everyday names like Harley, Ethel, Eryn, and Lola. I won't even go into my feelings on those names in particular.

And I'm just going to take the opportunity to reply here:

The_Dood_Abides wrote: But this thread serves no purpose than to be needlessly antagonistic, and for this reason, I'm locking it.

The_Dood_Abides wrote:Someone already made the thread you described, and the first post was loaded with unnecessary vitriol and spurious accusations about NISA having some nefarious "agenda" behind decisions like this, so I locked it.


There's no vitriol or unnecessary antagonism. Sarcasm, maybe. But if you think I'm spewing venom in that topic, you're sadly mistaken. That's a rather polite, if over the top, way to ask you to stop doing things that upset the fans. That's a feedback forum. That's where we tell you what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. And you can't get upset every time someone feels like you screwed up.

As for the "agenda" part, I meant your business practices and policies, not some secret plot you're concocting behind the scenes. I'm actually pretty offended that you've belittled me so much on word choice. That's a terrible professional attitude to have, especially one toward your consumer base.

Now if you want vitriol, I can deliver, but I rather appreciate not being banned from the forum for extreme behavior. I'm not stealth or Zeke.

I'll just add that NISA's reluctance to have an open discussion in the face of criticism, especially on their message board where most of such topics are locked within the day or bans are threatened almost immediately, is notoriously well-known.

(EDIT: I don't really have anything else to say on the subject that I haven't already said today. I've said my piece.)
Last edited by Daverost on Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Magician_Type_0 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:56 pm

PringlesXD wrote:Here's my take on this: I don't mind, as I normally don't mind name changes.
Plus, Effole sounds weird when I say it out loud.


Words and phonetics never really bother me considering I have to deal with nonsense like this everyday: chrząszcz or pszczoła.

It makes Effole look really generous of a word and really easy to say compared to crap like that. Maybe command over multiple languages makes things easier, but I've never really had issue with any weird or oddball names in any game. Oh well, too late now.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby vampko » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:18 pm

I will add that while I didn't disagree with not using "Effole" (as I think it just sounds like a poor attempt at making a foreign name), I really don't see how ti translated to "Ethel" (which I keep on reading as "Ethol"). Something like "Effoile" might have worked better. But I dunno if that's been copyrighted or whatever considering how troublesome that can be.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Houk » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:11 pm

If you genuinely think we as a company haven't been open or honest about discussing our localization choices and processes, there is literally nothing we can say or do that will ever change your mind.

All I have to do is look back at things like the original Mugen Souls editing/censorship discussions, the new Mugen Souls editing/censorship discussions, the extended dialogue regarding changes in Danganronpa, and this most recent round of discussion on FFF to see that that's absolutely untrue.

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've tried to explain our localization philosophy and why we do things the way we do, and some people still don't seem to understand. We're not going to post a defense of every translation choice we make in every game we release. You can be okay with it or not, but to expect in-depth defense beyond "we made it what we did because we felt that was the best choice based on the game, characters, and story" is, honestly, kind of ridiculous. You're not going to get that from any company.

For you specifically, Daverost, I've always seen you as a positive presence on these boards even when you (very strongly) disagree with our choices. But your reaction to this issue is way out of line compared to the severity of the issue itself, and frankly it's the kind of reaction that makes it very easy for people at companies like ours to write you off as just another angry fanboy. If you're willing to get this upset at minor changes, it's going to be hard to take you seriously when you get equally upset at what might be considered much bigger/more important issues.

The bottom line is, we're not going to change or not change something because of how we think a small minority of fans are going to react (and make no mistake - you are a small minority on issues like this). To try and predict the reactions of thousands of unique individuals is madness. All we can do is trust our own thoughts and instincts, based on our own experiences and understanding of the material, to make the best decisions we can for each project.

So, like I said at the beginning of this thread, it'd probably be good if you chilled out on all the angry rhetoric. It's not helping your cause in any way, really.

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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Seventh » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:42 pm

As I understand it, this issue (for Daverost - hence the post being in the Feedback forum rather than this one) was not just this issue, but rather it was the straw that broke the camel's back - his post there listed other examples of name changes, for instance.

Also, Houk, I would like to think you're just as capable of understanding what I was trying to get across in the OP as well as anyone. You may consider these changes minor, but others might not. Since a game is an individual experience, if the name change bothers someone, then to them, it isn't a minor change - it's not something that can be measured, because while one person might not be bothered, another might not get the game over repeated offenses like that.

You also say you're "open," but even now you're not being open, you're coming down on Daverost for, really, just criticizing a decision, a decision the person responsible for even said made him expect mixed reactions. That is... kind of the opposite of being open. You aren't giving validity to those criticisms, you're brushing them off, brushing those criticizing off, and saying this is why you do what you do and the ones criticizing aren't the majority so that's that. This seems to be the only response that ever comes when someone isn't happy with how something is done, when you boil them down.

Why not have a a real open discussion and at least entertain the alternatives? I can't see how you can claim to have ever had an open discussion when every time this sort of subject comes up, you never seem to be willing to entertain that the other side might have a point.

I won't lie - you weren't wrong about a great lot of things that I was concerned about in DR, and I enjoyed that game very much. I concede to most of that, and I'm glad to - I enjoyed the game, after all. And that's the thing.

We are not your enemies. We are your customers. We are your forum users. We aren't trying to "attack" or "fight the power" or "reveal an agenda," we want to play games - your games - and we want them to be the best they can be. Don't we share that common goal here? Shouldn't we be working together or... something?
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby xizro345 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:56 pm

Houk wrote:I
I can't even begin to count the number of times I've tried to explain our localization philosophy and why we do things the way we do, and some people still don't seem to understand.


I'm just going to say that I do understand it, but I do not agree with it, and I probably never will. It's completely the opposite of what I think it should be done. That's all, in fact I'm not going to comment on it (even though the explanation for the name change for Effole sounds, IMO, kind of ridicolous).

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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby PringlesXD » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:07 pm

But they have been open about it, haven't they? They even went as far as to give the entire reason as to why they decided to change the name from Effole to Ethel or whatever it was. The same can be said for when Alyn was changed to Eryn. Dood made lengthy posts about why they took such decisions, so I don't understand how that was not being open.

I'm completely aware people might not agree with their choices but I have completely understood why they decided to make the choices they did based on what they told us. You may want to argue why you don't appreciate it, but it's extremely unlikely they'll go back on their decision since they seem to have been doing work on the script and voice actors have started recording (at least that's what I got from what we were told earlier).

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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Daverost » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:10 pm

Believe it or not by my attitude, I do sometimes support some of these decisions. Not always, but sometimes. I was even okay with Alyn -> Eryn. To an extent. It doesn't sound like the same name, but I get where there's a change from what sounds like a western masculine name to a western feminine name, so long as that's what you were going for. But when I see the extent to which it's affecting this game, where it's not just one or two but at least four characters that I've been made aware of (with the possibility of more yet to be revealed) despite the same criticism that you get every, time, you do it, I just... can't take it. It set something off. It was becoming less of an exception and more of a rule. Seventh is right, it's really the straw that broke the camel's back.

Changes in names, titles, and terminology is the biggest criticism against you guys every time you localize something, but it's like you just flat out ignore everyone every time. There's never any discussion on "What do you guys think would be good alternatives if we're not able to do it this way or that way? We'd love to improve going forward" or any kind of survey sent out to those who follow you on Facebook or receive Prinny Bombs in the email to ask "What's your preferred method of localization? Literal? Translation of meaning? Something between?" Hell, even IFI did that right from the start. If you're met with criticism, you reach out to see what you can do to improve your image with your customers. You don't ignore it and keep doing it. That's the so-called definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And no, the customer doesn't always know what they want, but you can't keep ignoring the same criticism for a decade and expect it to stop. It won't. As long as you do this, it will upset people. And if you leave the names as they are you upset no one. You don't have to try to "predict the reactions of thousands of unique individuals" because no one will get upset if you don't change anything unless it's inherently and blatantly offensive. You only have to concern yourself with not upsetting the people who will get upset when you do change things.

I realize it's often a larger number of people than usual that get swept up in their arguments of the vocal minority in cases like this. But when you have this very topic, when you have several ongoing discussions on this forum expressing distaste for the changes in question, and when that isn't even exclusive to this forum but encompasses any number of other gaming forums where people know about this game or any other that you've done this with, it might be time to acknowledge that you may have a problem on your hands. At the very least, you should acknowledge that these few vocal people might be a fair representation of your larger consumer base and give even a little bit of consideration to their words instead of categorizing them as a "small minority" and brushing them aside every time. I'm not usually that guy, even though I am today, but it's not hard to notice those people more often than not being treated with disinterest or even disdain.

Whether you notice it or not, you've made a terrible reputation for yourself. I'm sure you've seen the torrent of questions every time you've announced something over the last year or two. "Will it be censored? Will it have a full dub? Are any names going to be changed? Will you be cutting any content? Have any characters had their personalities changed?" There are entire topics on some forums dedicated to talking about how much the users disapprove of how you handle your localizations. Large forums like GameFAQs and NeoGAF are full of these people. And if you think I'm vitriolic, don't go to those places. The mouths on those people would put a sailor to shame.

All I want is for this issue, this one, tiny, recurring issue, to be acknowledged and improved and preferably never seen again. You don't see it as a big deal, but a lot of your customers do, and it's such a simple thing to appease them with. And that's why we have this topic.

EDIT: How do I grammar?
Last edited by Daverost on Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby Magician_Type_0 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:12 pm

xizro345 wrote:
Houk wrote:I
I can't even begin to count the number of times I've tried to explain our localization philosophy and why we do things the way we do, and some people still don't seem to understand.


I'm just going to say that I do understand it, but I do not agree with it, and I probably never will. It's completely the opposite of what I think it should be done. That's all, in fact I'm not going to comment on it (even though the explanation for the name change for Effole sounds, IMO, kind of ridicolous).


I fall into the same boat. Sure I'll poke fun at it and find it personally unnecessary myself, but what's done is done and there is not much we can do anymore. I personally don't care in the grand scheme of things, but I think a fair deal of people share Xirzo's sentiments on this matter. Especially considering we've seen weirder names from other companies pass through the localization filter, but I know each company has its own pressing matters on how it handles everything.
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Re: Localization Discussion

Postby shadowmaksim » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:51 pm

Good to see that this went exactly as expected.

I personally have no problems with how NISA localizations go. For the most part, they have been completely open with their decisions. Whatever has been changed has been announced. Nothing, to my knowledge, has ever been secretly hidden until release. And when they were questioned on why they made changes, certain members have expressed reasons.

If this isn't open, than I don't know what is.

Edit: Deleted part of my post.
Last edited by shadowmaksim on Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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